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Grammar schools in London: the best state secondary schools

The English education system can be a little tricky to understand for anyone new to the country. For example, when you hear someone talking about a public school, they’re actually referring to an independent private school – confusing right? So, if state schools are government-funded schools and public schools are private schools, what are grammar schools?

Grammar schools

Grammars are state secondary schools for students between the ages of 11 and 16. These selective institutions admit pupils based on their academic performance having taken the 11-Plus entry exam. Under the grammar school system, students that pass the 11-plus gain entry to their local grammar, while those who fail must attend their local secondary school – these Excellent exam results sit in the comprehensive system, where students of all abilities learn together.

Grammar schools undermine privilege

Grammar schools allow the brightest students to study at excellent schools, regardless of their background. Entry is based on academic performance in the 11-Plus and completely free, meaning pupils who pass will always achieve a place.

Excellent exam results

The 11-Plus entry process means grammar school pupils typically possess a similar academic ability. This allows teachers to deliver lessons more effectively than those within the comprehensive system. Consequently, grammar schools tend to top the league tables.

According to a 2008 report from the Sutton Trust – champions of social mobility through evidence-led programmes research and policy influence – grammar school students perform better in GCSEs than pupils from other schools.

The future’s bright

Grammar schools have a proven track record of producing students who go on to have successful careers in a range of industries. Former grammar school pupils include John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Boris Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, David Attenborough and Anthony Hopkins.

A recent study by leading higher education institutions in the UK revealed that pupils that attended a grammar school typically earn more than those who attend a comprehensive school.

Get help from the experts

A relocation agency like Simply London – the leading London relocation agency – can help take the hassle out of your school search, whether it’s state, public or grammar. They offer two options, depending on your needs and budget:

  • School phone consultation – advice on schools, admissions and the general process.
  • Full school search package – an in-depth, bespoke service that’s tailored to your family’s requirements.


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